Now that he finally got his first victory as Philadelphia 76ers coach, Maurice Cheeks looks to get a win in front of the home crowd that reveres him when the Dallas Mavericks visit the Wachovia Center.
In his first season at the helm for Philadelphia, Cheeks got off to an 0-3 start with the team he led to a championship as the starting point guard in 1982-83.
That elusive first win came Saturday, 111-109 at Indiana. The 76ers nearly blew a 20-point lead before Chris Webber made two free throws with 1.8 seconds left to seal the win.
“It felt good to get coach Cheeks his first win because he’s proud to be a 76er and that makes me proud to be a 76er,” Webber said.
Cheeks can only hope his third home game as 76ers coach goes better than the first two. Philadelphia lost its home opener to Milwaukee in overtime and was routed 110-93 by Charlotte on Friday.
Defense clearly has not been the focal point of Cheeks’ first season. The 76ers are giving up a league-high 111 points per game, allowing teams to shoot 50.5 percent from the field and getting outrebounded in all four games.
The 76ers have struggled to stop Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki in his seven-year career. The 7-footer has averaged 25 points in 12 games against Philadelphia, his second-most against any opponent.
Nowitzki scored 11 consecutive points in the second quarter and finished with 34 as the Mavericks beat San Antonio 103-84 on Saturday. He made 4 of 5 3-pointers and is shooting 52.9 percent from 3-point range.
Dallas is fourth in the league in 3-point shooting, making 41.5 percent.
Second-year guard Devin Harris impressed Mavericks coach Avery Johnson with his play against the Spurs, making all eight of his shots and scoring 20 of his career-high 22 points in the fourth quarter.
“I thought he was very aggressive,” Johnson said. “We worked out before the game and talked about a few things. I thought he did some nice things (Saturday night).”
Harris totaled just 15 points in his first two games after averaging 5.7 points last season as a rookie.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 8): Mavericks - 3rd place (tied), 1/2 GB, Southwest Division. 76ers - 3rd place, 1 GB, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Mavericks - Nowitzki, 26.0 ppg and 9.7 rpg; Terry, 4.3 apg. 76ers - Iverson, 31.0 ppg and 8.0 apg; Webber, 9.8 rpg.
2004-05 SEASON SERIES: 1-1.
LAST MEETING: April 1, 2005; Mavericks, 100-83. At Philadelphia, Nowitzki scored 29 points, going 14-for-14 from the foul line, and former 76ers forward Keith Van Horn added 15 points to help the Mavericks clinch a playoff spot.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mavericks - 1-1 on the road; 76ers - 0-2 at home.